This week saw what I think was the most beautiful concrete pour of our career. The project is an addition to a cabin overlooking the South Yuba River. The addition sits squarely on a large boulder next to the cabin and the foundations are pinned into the rock. Windows will face the river and give wonderful views.
It was a perfect morning, everything went smoothly, and Tom and Maru, the owners, were happy to help with trowelling. After months of planning, it’s great to see how well this project will sit on its site. We can’t wait to see the next phases!
Happy Earth Day everyone! OK, OK, maybe you have a slightly nagging feeling about this. It’s one of those events that feels like a reminder, like maybe you’re not eating enough healthy food or exercising enough. “Am I really doing all I can to help the planet?” Probably not, right?
We could all probably consume less, drive less, remember to turn out the lights more often, use less water, pick less toxic products from less far away, and the list goes on and on. And then we feel a little guilty about it. And we think about how insurmountably huge the Earth’s problems are. And then we think about how ineffective we are, and it’s all hopeless. Earth Day, how depressing, I don’t want to think about it! And yet…
And yet… every little bit really does help. Look at your good side: Maybe you already recycle, maybe you eat organic, maybe you traded your SUV for a Prius, maybe you do take shorter showers. It’s all good! And it’s all cumulative. Enough of us taking these baby steps results in real movement. You probably already have more insulation, better fuel economy and a smaller carbon footprint than your parents did.
Where we live, Styrofoam food containers are already banned, if we don’t bring our own grocery bags to the store we have to pay for them, and our building codes are about to change again, requiring ever more energy efficiency. While this may all seem inconvenient, it’s also progress. At Fringe Studio we deal with a couple of larger-scale issues: Did you know that our buildings contribute far more to climate change than our cars? Every project we do improves energy efficiency somewhere. We wish we all could be less wasteful about furniture, too. Most of it has been shipped around the world, contains chemicals we don’t want to think about, and will be thrown out after a few years, where it will contribute to landfill volume for many years.
As members of the Sustainable Furnishings Council, we are committed to doing things more conscientiously. The fiberboard is formaldehyde-free, the finishes are low-VOC water-based, the sourcing is local. The wood slabs you see on our site? All salvaged. We can even tell you where some of the trees fell down. Some of it was retrieved from burn piles! Imagine: you could buy something made from someone else’s trash, that you would keep for a long time, and that is really beautiful. That would feel good, wouldn’t it?
Want to feel even better? Just click on the images below, and you will become a highly educated consumer, just like that.
Now pat yourself on the back! We can make a difference. Happy Earth Day!
I was in Mexico City last week, for the first of what we hope will be many visits. The weather there right now is perfect, so the locals throw all their doors open and leave them that way. They really know how to blur the boundary between outside and inside.
This is the bookstore and cafe across the street from the Anthropology museum, built right around an existing tree. Even though the building sits in a park with plenty of trees, they still chose to keep this one.
This space would not be anywhere near so rich, engaging, and inviting without that tree there. And yes, the doors were wide open, too. Lovely.
We are privileged to live in an Eichler house designed by A. Quincy Jones in the mid 1950’s. He drew one of my favorite images of how single-family houses should behave.
The top row shows the houses popping up out of a flat ground plane. The bottom row shows the ground plane morphed into small hills and berms, partially hiding the now lower-slung houses. This was Jones’ preference, and mine, too. Frank Lloyd Wright taught us to tie our buildings to the land, and it's always a good lesson.
Taking this thought a step further, our choice of colors should also work with nature, especially for a modern house. Darker, earthier colors, found in nature, can give our buildings and their surroundings a richer feeling. Which brings us back to our house: These before and after shots illustrate these points well. We even have a little berm in front.